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4.12 | 34 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Agent Orange (6:04)
2. Tired and Red (5:26)
3. Incest (4:40)
4. Remember the Fallen (4:20)
5. Magic Dragon (6:00)
6. Exhibition Bout (3:35)
7. Ausgebombt (3:04)
8. Baptism of Fire (4:04)

Total time 37:16

CD bonus track:
9. Don't Walk Away (Tank cover) (2:55)

Total Time: 40:12


- Tom Angelripper / Bass, Vocals
- Frank Blackfire / Guitars, Backing Vocals
- Chris Witchhunter / Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

About this release

Steamhammer, June 1st, 1989

Thanks to Time Signature, Vim Fuego for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Agent Orange" is the 3rd full-length studio album by German thrash metal act Sodom. The album was released through Steamhammer Records in June 1989. It´s the successor to "Persecution Mania" from 1987 and features the same trio lineup who recorded the predecessor.

Although the songwriting and technical level of playing are a bit more sophisticated on "Agent Orange" than was the case on "Persecution Mania (1987)", the two albums are very much what I´d label sibling releases. Sodom show enough progression in both areas to seperate the two releases, but on the other hand the overall music style is very similar on the two albums. It´s raw, aggressive, and sometimes even brutal German thrash metal. Sodom understand the importance of variation though, and while part of the tracks are furiously fast-paced and aggressive thrash metal with lead vocalist/bassist Tom Angelripper delivering raw and raspy vocals on top, most tracks also feature heavy mid-paced parts, and even parts where Angelripper uses other and less aggressive vocal styles. The best example of that is the ultra heavy "Remember the Fallen", but the original CD bonus track "Don't Walk Away", which is a cover by Tank, also shows that Angelripper is capable of performing other types of vocals. He doesn´t stray far from his starting point, but enough to add a little diversity to the vocal part of the album.

Some tracks and riff structures/rhythms may seem a little formulaic, but again Sodom manage to avoid losing the listener´s attention by throwing the occasional curveball. "Magic Dragon" for example starts out really heavy, and then suddenly explodes and continues in a furiously fast-paced and aggressive fashion, only to end in a mid-paced galloping type riff/rhythm. That´s exactly the type of unconventional songwriting structures which make "Agent Orange" a little more interesting than it would have been if every track on the album was just your regular vers/chorus structured composition. "Ausgebombt" deserves a mention too as one of the different sounding tracks of the album, as it´s basically a hardcore punk meets Motörhead type track, with Angelripper´s bass sounding almost like an ode to Lemmy´s distorted bass tone and playing style.

"Agent Orange" features a powerful, raw, and detailed sounding production job, which suits the material perfectly and upon conclusion this is mandatory listening for those interested in the teutonic thrash metal style. This one hits the balance right between unhinged aggression and brutality, and the occasionally more sophisticated songwriting moment. Not completely unlike a contemporary German thrash metal release like "Extreme Aggression (1989)" by Kreator. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
Vim Fuego
So why did you start listening to heavy metal? The rebellion factor? Iron Maiden's cool covers? Hearing Black Sabbath from someone older? Seeing Bros on telly in the late 1980s and thinking "This is awful"?

For me, it was the sheer childish pleasure of head banging, playing air guitar, and pretending to be Steve Harris. Metal looked and sounded like fun, so I tried it, and I'm still hooked. During that time, Sodom has given me a lot of pleasure (don't take that the wrong way!) and has caused me many a whiplashed neck from frenzied headbanging. 'Agent Orange' is an album to slip on when no one is around, put away all breakable things in the room, pick up a tennis racket, and just let rip!

Sodom were never a band to let technicality to get in the way of a good song. Equal parts Venom and Motorhead, this is thrash metal at it's most basic, and most effective. Like those two legendary noisy three piece bands, the trio of musicians in Sodom may not be the best in their field, but working on Motorhead's "Fuck it, it's only rock and roll" theory, produced some of the most ungodly thrash noise ever to make it to record. At one time, Sodom were one of the most extreme bands in the world, even being labelled "death metal" and "black metal" back in the mid 1980s.

It's hard to believe Sodom had slowed down for this album. Listen to songs like "Ausgebombt" booming out of your stereo and you'll hear a simple repetitive bass line, fairly basic piledriver drumming, catchy riffs, and Tom Angelripper's Teutonic shout over it all. It's not particularly tight in places, almost verging on falling apart during a few of the solos, but fuss is kept to a minimum. There are even punk rock shout-along choruses here. There's the odd solo thrown in, but you'll not find a self-indulgent fiddle-fest. Bands today who don't use solos should take note- you don't have to be Yngwie Malmsteen to play a good solo.

The title track, "Remember The Fallen" and Ausgebombt" are the pick of the bunch here, although that said, there are really no dud tracks on this album. When this was released in 1989, Sodom were moving away from the anti-Christian sentiments of earlier releases, having found a deeper vein of inspiration in railing against the stupidity of war. One track which is just a little disturbing however, is "Incest". Apparently Angelripper fancied his own sister...

"Agent Orange" has all the ingredients a good thrash album needs. Days later, the pounding songs will still be echoing in your subconscious, and you will be flicking devil horns at everyone you meet. Remember the fallen!
Though it was a huge commercial hit for them, I just can't get into Sodom's Agent Orange myself. By this point the band seem to have lost their individual personality, churning out a thrash sound influenced by most of the Big Four without doing very much particularly new or exciting with it beyond laying some sick vocals on the top. The compositions on this Vietnam-obsessed album are a decent enough listen if you like thrash - and I like me some thrash - but there's nothing to it that really compels me to put the album on in preference to any other competent thrash album; I never find myself thinking "man, I'm in an Agent Orange mood right now".
Agent Orange by Sodom is one of those must-have thrash metal albums that you’ll always find in countdowns and lists of top 100 metal albums and top 20 thrash albums etc alongside the likes of Beneath The Remains, Extreme Aggression and Forbidden Evil.

Released in 1989, the German thrash band’s third full length album was a breakthrough moment that raised their profile, shifted a lot of units and earned the band a lasting respect. Earlier Sodom albums and EPs had been very noisy, harsh and extreme and became very influential for black and death metal artists much like the earliest Sepultura and Kreator records.

Agent Orange found the band unleashing their full potential as songwriters and as musicians, song lengths extended, acoustic sections got introduced, guitar solos came more frequently and more impressively, structures got more complex and the album as a whole just has a grand and important feel like all the very best thrash albums do. All of this happened in conjunction with a notably better production job resulting in a stunning album all around.

Another thing in its favour is that Agent Orange isn’t all just mindless thumping, and intense speeds with no respite. The band make the faster sections good by use of contrast; Sodom play a mixture of tempos here, using chugging sections and even occasional grooves and sudden tempo shifts to brake up the monotony, making for a very strong listen that doesn’t get old on repeat listens.

Standout tracks include the amazing title track ‘Agent Orange,’ as well as the slower ‘Remember The Fallen,’ and the furious ‘Tired And Red.’

Sometimes you will read that Agent Orange is a bad album, but that is almost always from the perspective of people who prefer really extreme music, raw production and the like. If you aren’t just an elitist and are a fan of well composed and interesting thrash metal trust that Argent Orange deserves its reputation on all those top metal album countdowns and lives up to the hype.

In summary; If you are a fan of thrash metal I would strongly recommend this album, doubly so if you like late eighties work of Kreator, Destruction or Sepultura. If you are a fan of Sodom already you absolutely must check it out.

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